Question: What Are the Ingredients in Rubbing Alcohol?
of the types of alcohol you can buy over the counter is rubbing
alcohol, which is used for disinfection and may be applied to the skin
to produce a cooling effect. Do you know the chemical composition of
rubbing alcohol? It is a mixture of
water and agents added to make the alcohol unpalatable to drink and
sometimes colorants. There are two common types of rubbing alcohol.
Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
Most rubbing alcohol is made from isopropyl alcohol
or isopropanol in water. It is common to find isopropyl rubbing alcohol
at concentrations from 68% alcohol in water up to 99% alcohol in water.
The 70% rubbing alcohol is highly effective as a disinfectant.
Additives make this alcohol bitter-tasting, to try to prevent people
from drinking it. Isopropyl alcohol is toxic, in part because the body
metabolizes it into acetone. Drinking this alcohol can cause headache,
dizziness, nausea, vomiting, central nervous system depression, organ
damage and potentially coma or death.
Ethyl Alcohol Rubbing Alcohol
The other type of rubbing alcohol consists of 97.5-100% denatured ethyl alcohol
or ethanol with water. Ethyl alcohol naturally is less toxic than
isopropyl alcohol. In fact, it is the alcohol that naturally occurs in
wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages. However, the alcohol is
denatured or made undrinkable in rubbing alcohol, both to control its
use as an intoxicant and because the alcohol has not been purified to
make it safe to drink. In fact, in the US, additives make it as toxic as
Rubbing Alcohol in the UK
In the United Kingdom, rubbing alcohol
goes by the name "surgical spirit". The formulation consists of a
mixture of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.
Rubbing Alcohol in the US
In the United States, rubbing alcohol
made using ethanol must conform to Formula 23-H, which specifies it
consists of 100 parts by volume of ethyl alcohol, 8 parts by volume of
acetone and 1.5 parts by volume of methyl isobutyl ketone (MSDS sheet). The remainder of the composition includes water and denaturants and may include colorants and perfume oils.Rubbing alcohol made using isopropanol is regulated to contains at least 355 mg of sucrose octaacetate (MSDS sheet) and 1.40 mg of denatonium benzoate (MSDS sheet) per 100 ml volume. Isopropyl rubbing alcohol also contains water, stabilizer and may contain colorants.
Rubbing Alcohol Toxicity
all rubbing alcohol manufactured in the US is toxic to ingest, inhale
or apply to your skin. In fact, if you read the product label, you'll
see there is a warning against most of the common uses of rubbing
alcohol.All types of rubbing alcohol, regardless of their country of
origin, are flammable. Formulations closer to 70% are less likely to
catch fire than rubbing alcohol that contains a higher percentage of